mands ... skywalker’s review published on Letterboxd:
While it’s not my favourite Star Wars movie anymore, Empire remains the best Star Wars movie of all time in my book, even after forty years and seven additional movies in the saga. I love the worldbuilding not only in story, but in soundtrack too. I love the romance of Han and Leia. I love the twist. I love seeing more of Luke and Vader. I love the character growth. I just really love this movie.
The tonal shift from the lightheartedness of New Hope to something darker lends itself to the overall quality of the movie, but without fully losing itself in the new tone. Empire remembers that it’s a Star Wars movie (although only one of two at the time), and so remains fun and, at times, even funny. However, the apotheosis of the movie shows our heroes failing. Luke doesn’t finish his training, instead rushing headfirst into battle ill-prepared, and losing the fight and costing him his hand. Han is frozen by the Empire and carted over to Boba Fett for delivery to Jabba. The Empire really did strike back, and for the most part, they won.
While the heroes might’ve lost this battle, they haven’t lost the war. One of my favourite parts of the movie is the ending. Lando and Chewie leave as Luke and Leia look on, the Rebel ships blast off, and then… circle out and roll credits. It‘s unresolved and uncertain, matching the tone and theme of the movie in feeling, and it’s great. It leaves an opening for more to come, and doesn’t set anything in stone, except for the parental reveal. However, one of the more important things it achieves is underscoring the greater essence of all Star Wars: hope.
(Obligatory Luke Skywalker love mention. But also gonna mention Vader because I really love him too.)
(Also I feel the need to point out that Leia kissed Luke on the lips not once, but twice. And her and Han kiss once and bam, it’s like they’re dating? But I’m okay with that because I absolutely love them.)